Stifle Problem

Last post 06-13-2006 8:46 PM by 643791. 12 replies.
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  • 06-13-2006 8:46 PM

    Stifle Problem

    I have a 3 year old TB who has been having stifle problems. A year ago I would notice, while trying to pick out his hind feet, that he would sometimes have trouble shifting his weight to one side to pick up the other foot. He never had any problems while working, just while standing still.

    All of the information I researched pointed to a slipped patella, common in young horses and usually gradually disappeared as they were worked and their stifles were strengthened.

    He has now been under saddle for a year - has a nice w/t/c. His stifle seems to be getting worse instead of better. It now visibly gets 'locked up' for several seconds. Again, it is only when he is crosstied and is also more noticable when he has been in his stall for the day (rather than turned out). Cannot tell if it is one leg more than the other, but it has happened to both.

    The vet suggested hill work.

    Any opinions as to what this could be, suggestions on how to work through it, etc? I think it's also worth mentioning that he was 16 hands the day he turned 2, and at 3 he is still very much in a teenager stage physically (tall and gangly, doesn't know where his feet are). Thanks to all in advance!
  • 06-13-2006 9:19 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    My old TB mare had stifle and hind end issues... hill work and LOTS of REALLY forward trotting (making her use her hind end) really helped a TON! Like within a few weeks she was 100% sound and COMFORTABLE (ie no more pinning her ears, balking, rearing, etc) It helped a TON
  • 06-13-2006 10:15 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    The slipped patella is one potential source, another source can be the actual stifle tendon slipping in the sheath, and come out of the groove.

    Unfortunately the only real way to "know for sure" is an MRI.
    We have an OTTB and he may be suffering from the same thing. The symptoms sound similar. His in the right hind. It is particurally acute the day after the farrier has been there. We have been told that an operation can correct the problem, but so far, as long as he is free to move about it's not a debillitating problem.
  • 06-13-2006 10:52 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    Thank you, we will start on hill work and forward trotting immediately! Smile
  • 06-13-2006 10:55 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    Thanks, I will keep the tendon issue in mind as a possibility as well.

    Interesting how they all seem to be TBs!
  • 06-14-2006 12:00 AM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    My mare, Pepper, seems to have some minor stifle problems. Never enough to get her lame. She stumbles sometimes - as if the stifle just gives way for a moment. She trips less and less with the more work she has.

    We never had her X-Rayed or really know for sure what's going on, but from everyone I've talked to they've pointed to the stifle, but as she's comfortable enough and it does get better with work, I haven't had her X-Rayed.

    Really I just wanted to mix things up and throw my Quarter Horse mare in the Thoroughbred mix Wink, and put another face to the fact that things do sometimes get better with work.

    Good luck and keep us updated.

    Pepper - 1998 QH Mare
    Princess and Royal Spoilee

    Pepperoni'n
  • 06-14-2006 11:39 AM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    Building up the supporting muscles is a must. Hill work and trotting. I would leave leave him turned out. Also make sure sure his hooves are properly balanced. My "stifley" horses are much better since going Barefoot.
  • 06-14-2006 3:08 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    Thank for your input! It does seem to get better with work (immediate work, as in the longer he's worked that day the stronger he seems to get), but as he's been under saddle for a year now and overall it's getting worse, I was concerned.
  • 06-14-2006 3:11 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    That's what I assumed, but since he's been under saddle a year (his muscles should be much more built up than they were last year) and it has gotten worse I became concerned.

    He is barefoot, thanks for that suggestion.

    Today we went on a 2 hour trail ride, many hills as it's a mountain. He started out iffy, with the stifle giving out several times at a trot and even a few times at a walk. But it got progressively better as the ride went on and at the end of the ride he was quite strong(hindquarter wise) and his stifle was working properly.
    This usually seems to be the case - the longer he is worked, the better it becomes. But it's starting from ground zero again the next day. We'll continue this hill work and start lots of extended trotting and see how it goes.
  • 06-15-2006 7:05 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    Have ridden lots of horses with very straight hind leg conformation that had stifle problems. Hill work (trotting up and then walking down using "s" curves) helps significantly. For severe cases, talk to your vet about doing a course of estrogen shots in addition to the strengthening. It doesn't work in all cases, but I've had a lot of luck with it. Basically, it helps tighten up the muscles. I did a course of shots on day 1, day 4, day 7, day 14 and then every two weeks after that as needed. After the first two weeks, we were good to go--and Mets had the same problem that he'd lock up after some work once he got a little tired. Not a fun feeling, and probably really painful for him, when he'd go three legged after a jump.
  • 06-20-2006 10:58 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    Thanks for the input, and suggestion of estrogen shots. That's very unusual!

    Actually my guy gets BETTER with work - it's when we first start out that he's horrible. Tonight I did 5 minutes of groundwork with him. His leg locked up twice while moving forward (his toe rolls under because he can't bring his leg up underneath him), and 4 out of the 5 times I asked him to back up his left was locked up(he sort of has to slide it backwards because the stifle won't work).
  • 06-21-2006 2:45 AM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    You might want to try using a brace (rub it in) before you ride to help loosen him up.. My vet prescribed I rub in bigeloil/dmso on the area. Use laytex gloves as you don't want the dmso on your skin. I mixed 1/2 bottle(32 oz size prolly) of Bigeloil with bout 8 oz of dmso.. I sprayed it on her knee/stifle area then rubbed it in. Also used it on her windpuffs. Mare is the grey in my sig. NOT a TB.. lol believe hers was caused by excess weight and light laminitis and abcesses due to that weight.. 24/7 turn out as well.

    I do hear young ones most often get this as a bit of a growing pain type of issue. Hopefully your horse will work out of it as he continues to mature.
  • 06-27-2006 3:38 PM In reply to

    Re: Stifle Problem

    Actually sticky stifles are common in young horses especially during a growth phase or right after a growth phase. I have a coming 5 yo warmblood going through it now. I recommend getting your vet to diagnose it so you can confirm its not something else because similar symptoms can also be related to neurological diseases, or a small facture. Best to catch whatever it is early and correctly. If it is a sticky stifle related to growth phases it could be an on and off issue until horse is done growing. Best treatment is strengthening exercises like hill work, calvelletti work, and forward trot. However depending on how much of an issue it is which should be determined by vet; Estrogen injections, corrective hind shoes, blistering, and/or surgery might be options too. Really you need to get you vet to check out the horse. I was really worried with my horse it was a neuroligical disease as it came on sudden and he started falling down with his hind end more and more in our rides. But two vets both said he had no neurological symptoms once they examined him and they were able to feel how loose his stifle was and see it lock up intermittantly on the lunge line, so the prescribed hillwork, calvelletti, estrogen theraphy, and adding 2 degree wedge pads to his hind shoes. The estrogen and wedge pads on the shoes are temporary to get the horse feeling good enough he can use himself correctly and build up the muscles around the stifle. ITs been two weeks and my horse is already doing soooo much better. Also the vet commmented this could be up and down hill until my horse is done growing. Smirk

    Also check into EPSM as it can cause a locking stifle.

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